The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
October 16, 2011
1) The Parable of the Seed and the Sower (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
The Parable of the Seed and the Sower
by Tom Edwards
Jesus' parable of "The Seed and the Sower" is seen in the accounts
of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. According to Matthew 13:1,2, the
Lord declared this parable from a boat in the Sea of Galilee.
The accounts of Matthew and Mark show that Jesus began teaching by
the sea, where He had been sitting; but then, because of the very
large crowd that had gathered about Him, He boarded a boat on the
sea from which to address the multitude (Mark 4:1,2). From
there, His voice would probably be well carried over the surface of
the water to this large group of listeners, whom Matthew says were
all "standing on the beach" (Matt. 13:2). So it was a location
with good, natural acoustics to be addressing this multitude.
Concerning this enormous group that had gathered on this occasion to
hear the Lord, Luke adds a little more to the picture.
He shows that it was not only "a large crowd" that was coming to
hear Him, but also that there were "...those from the various
cities" who "were journeying to Him..." (Luke 8:4).
The "Sea of Galilee" (Matt. 4:18) is also known in the Bible as the
"Sea of Tiberias," (John 21:1), "the sea of Chinnereth" (Num.
34:11), "the sea of Chinneroth" (Josh. 12:3), and "the lake of
Gennesaret" (Luke 15:1). It was actually a large, fresh-water
lake, extending about 14 miles in length and varying from about 5 to
8 miles in width. It is also noted as being 600 feet lower
than the Mediterranean Sea, which appears to be about 25 miles to
the west of it, and is said to be in the region where some of the
most beautiful areas of all Palestine are located. Abounding
in fish, the Sea of Galilee has also long been a good spot for
fisherman, as we see in the case of some of the Lord's apostles who
at one time had made their living from it.
It was at this time, in which the Gospel states, that the Lord was
"teaching them many things in parables" (Mark 4:2); and the first
parable recorded is the parable of "the sower" who "went out to sow"
(Matt. 13:3). All in all, the NT contains 30 of the
Lord's parables. The first use of the word "parables" in
the NT is in Matthew 13:3.
According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, the
literal Greek word for parable "signifies a placing of two or more
objects together, usually for the purpose of comparison. In
this widest sense of the term there is practically no difference
between parable and simile." A simile, of course, is very much
like a metaphor; but it is a comparison that begins with the term
"like" or "as." One example of this can be seen in Matthew
13:33. It states, "He spoke another parable to them, 'The
kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in
three pecks of meal, until it was all leavened.'" So in
the case of the Lord's parables, they can be thought of as "earthly
stories," which the people of that day could easily relate to, but
that which also conveyed a heavenly meaning of spiritual
significance and value.
In Matthew 13:34,35, the Lord gives an explanation for His use of
parables. There actually appears to be several reasons for
it: First of all, it was a fulfillment of the prophecy made
concerning this. Secondly, it was also to reveal things that
had been hidden since the foundation of the world. But,
thirdly, not only was it to reveal, parables would also conceal from
those who really did not have the proper spiritual interest, as can
be seen in Matthew 13:10-15. This also appears to correspond
with the Lord's instruction in Matthew 7:6 to "Do not give what is
holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they
trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to
pieces." Set a pearl before a swine, and it will
recognize no value whatsoever in it. The swine could
totally disregard it, stomp it into the mud, where it would never be
seen again, and feel no sense of loss in doing that. So
casting pearls before swine would be very unwise. In the
use of the parables, these people who had no regard for the truth
would only be hearing an earthly story and not be able to perceive
the great spiritual lessons from it. So the real "pearls" or
"gems" of the story would remain hidden to them.
In the parable of the seed and the sower, we are made aware of
various needs. First there is a need for the seed. For
no matter how excellent a farmer might be, no plant could even begin
to grow without the needed seed. The seed, therefore, is seen
as having great significance. For from seeds of vegetation,
springs forth vegetation; and what this seed stands for in the
parable is of even more important value! For Christ speaks of
it as representing "the word of God" (Luke 8:11) -- and from which
can also come life. For instance, Jesus says, "...the words I
have spoken to you are spirit and are life" (Jn. 6:33). After
many had turned from the Lord and were no longer following Him, He
asked Peter, "You do not want to go away also, do you?" Peter
then responded by saying, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have
words of eternal life" (Jn. 6:66-68). It was also Peter who,
some years later, declares, "for you have been born again not of
seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the
living and enduring word of God" (1 Pet. 1:23). The
Gospel is "the power of God for salvation" (Rom. 1:16). God's
word is the source whereby faith is instilled (Rom. 10:17), and it
has the ability to make alive someone who is dead in sin.
In addition to the need of the pure seed of the gospel, as we see in
the Lord's parable, there is also a need for the sower; and that is
what every Christian is to also be. The need to teach others
the truth is not only seen in the Bible, but also in our common
sense. For there is no message more important to impart to
others than the message of God's word that can save a soul
from eternal torment and redirect that soul to everlasting bliss
instead. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul gives this following
instruction to Timothy: "And the things which you have heard from me
in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men,
who will be able to teach others also." The Greek word
for "men" in this verse is not "aner," which would mean "males
exclusively"; rather, it is the Greek word "anthropos," which stands
for mankind in general. Thayer primarily defines it as, "a
human being, whether male or female." So teaching others the
truth is what each Christian is to be involved in, though not all in
the same capacity. For since a woman is not to "teach nor
usurp authority over the man" (1 Tim. 2:12), then she is not to
serve as a gospel preacher over a congregation; but there are still
other ways in which she can teach.
Let us now hear "The Parable of the Seed and the Sower." Jesus
says, "Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some
seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them
up. And others fell upon the rocky places, where they did not
have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no
depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched;
and because they had no root, they withered away. And others
fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them
out. And others fell on the good soil, and yielded a crop,
some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has
ears, let him hear" (Matt. 13:3-9).
In verse 4, Jesus speaks of the seeds that fell beside the road and
were eaten by birds instead of being able to grow in the good
soil. The Lord later points out the spiritual meaning of this,
by saying, "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not
understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been
sown in his heart..." (v. 19). Mark and Luke refer to
this "evil one" as "Satan" and "the devil," respectively.
How can the seed of God's word be hindered from taking root in one's
heart? In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul speaks of the "natural" man
who "does not accept the things of the Spirit of God." Though
some have mistakenly interpreted "natural" man to mean "anyone who
does not have a direct operation of the Holy Spirit in his life in
order to understand God's word," that is not what it means.
The Greek word for "natural" in this verse is translated as
"worldly-minded" in Jude 1:19, where it is speaking of those who are
"mockers" and "following after their own ungodly lusts" (v.
18). It then says, "These are the ones who cause divisions,
WORLDLY-MINDED, devoid of the Spirit" (v. 19). So no wonder
they have no interest toward understanding God's word. Paul
declares that "the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for
it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even
able to do so" (Rom. 8:7).
Furthermore, it doesn't take a miraculously intervention of the Holy
Spirit that men might understand the Scriptures. For Paul
writes, "when you read you can understand my insight into the
mystery of Christ...." In 2 Corinthians 1:13, Paul states,
"For we write nothing else to you than what you read and
Even as Christians, we must be careful, however, that the seed of
God's word is developing in our lives by continually submitting to
it. For that is how we receive spiritual nourishment (cf. Jn.
4:34; Matt. 4:4); and without that type of faithful commitment, it
is possible to become forgetful hearers who are only deceiving
themselves about one's relationship with God (Jms.
1:23-25). We need to, therefore, take heed to the
Bible's warnings: "My son, give attention to my words; Incline your
ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to
those who find them, And health to all their whole body. Watch
over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of
life" (Prov. 4:20-23). To the Corinthians, Paul spoke of
the gospel by which they were saved, "...if you hold fast the word I
preached to you, unless you believed in vain" (1 Cor. 15:2).
Isn't that something? A person can actually believe "in
vain." If, however, one could be saved by merely giving mental
assent toward all that the Bible says, without the need for any
obedience, than that kind of "faith" could never be a vain or
useless thing -- even when the person commits terrible sins and
remains impenitent. But faith can become vain because "a man
is justified by works, and not by faith alone" (Jms. 2:24), and
"faith without works is dead" (v. 26). So faith without
obedience is vain or futile to save anyone. Faith without
works is the kind that the demons have, according to James
2:19. Here James says, "You believe that God is one. You do
well; the demons also believe, and shudder." Yes, the demons
believe, but you'll never find them faithfully pleasing and loving
the Lord by obeying Him. James then goes on to say in the very
next verse, "But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow,
that faith without works is useless?" And then cites the
example of Abraham who was justified by his works, when he offered
up his son Isaac upon the altar (v. 21). By Abraham's
obedience, it could then be said that "Abraham believed God" and
that "he was called the friend of God" (v. 23). Jesus also
tells His followers, "You are My friends, if you do what I command
you" (Jn. 15:14). So, clearly, obedience must be coupled with
In addition, isn't it even worse for the one who knows the right
thing to do, but does it not, than for the person who just never
knew? Though both would be lost in the Judgment Day, Peter
shows in 2 Peter 2:20-22 that it is worse for the Christian to go
back into sin than for the one who had never become a
Christian. He declares: "For if after they have escaped the
defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the
last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be
better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than
having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to
them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb,
'A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT,' and, 'A sow, after washing,
returns to wallowing in the mire.'"
So we must guard our hearts and make sure the word of the Lord is
always a part of us by living according to it, rather than allowing
temptation to lead us away from it. The psalmist truly looked
to God's word in this manner. He says in Psalm 119:11, "Thy
word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against
Thee." Would that not be the key? Yes, we need to also
"treasure" or highly esteem God's word, rather than to become
indifferent toward it, so that the devil won't be able to take away
that word from our hearts (cf. Luke 8:12).
(Concluded in the next edition of The Gospel Observer)
News & Notes
John Crews (Richard and
Cheryl's son) is now back home from the hospital, after having his
appendix removed. Let those of us who are Christians be
praying for a speedy recovery for him.
Connie Calloway had to
recently be hospitalized, due to not feeling well. Let us also
be remembering her in our prayers.
Others to be praying for are Peggy
Lefort and Geneva Wilson,
who both, after healing from their previous illnesses, soon came
down with a different kind.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)